Review: The North Face Vectiv Exploris II Futurelight Boot

A lightweight and waterproof boot suited to multi-day hikes and long days in the hills

Feature type Review

Read time 5 mins

Published Nov 30, 2023

Jonathan Doyle Jonathan is a freelance filmmaker, photographer, and drone pilot, based in the North West of England. His passion is for capturing real adventure stories about real people, the kind we can all connect with. Exploring connections with health, friendships and the environment by documenting the experiences of people pushing their limits, Jonathan brings their stories to life.

OUR VERDICT

A lightweight and waterproof pair of boots which are well suited to multi-day hikes and long days in the hills.

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Features Lightweight, waterproof Futurelight membrane, 3D VECTIV™ footplate and SurfaceCTRL™ grip for excellent stability.

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Excellent waterproofing
  • Lightweight
  • Covert modern style

Cons

  • I find the curved shape to feel a little unstable when on tip-toes
  • Gap in the sole creates suction effect
  • Lower-ankle height creates risk of water-ingress from above

WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR

I’m looking for a pair of boots that provide all-day comfort as well as being able to reliably keep my feet dry. Furthermore, I spend a good deal of time scrambling and climbing across difficult terrain and so I need boots that offer excellent support and protection. I also prefer my walking boots to have a more ‘street-style’ aesthetic as I don’t want to feel like I stand out when walking around town or going out for lunch.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I was drawn to the North Face VECTIV Exploris II Futurelight walking boots as they seemed to be the do-it-all when I came to support, stability and comfort, and the Futurelight waterproof membrane has an excellent reputation. I  also really liked their modern ‘covert’ design, giving the appearance of a stylish city shoe, while offering excellent technical performance. When wearing them for the first time, I was certainly impressed with how comfortable they were right out of the box.

THE TEST

I really put these boots through their paces, throwing everything I could at them. I wore them while working for Relic Plastic where I was stood on my feet for 8 hours during the working day, and then forgot to take them off again until I went to bed – a solid 16 hours of wear without any discomfort.

I also wore the Futurelights while on a photoshoot with Beyond Aerial in the Peak District. While it was dry, the conditions underfoot were less than ideal, with a great deal of steep, polished limestone to navigate. I also used the boots as my primary festival footwear, where the conditions could only be described as a mud-bath. Finally, I used them while filming ultra runners in the rain. The terrain was mossy in places, loose, technical, and of course wet.

I really put these boots through their paces, throwing everything I could at them

WHO ARE THESE BOOTS FOR?

The North Face VECTIV II boots are for people who enjoy hiking on technical trails. Their low weight, exemplary comfort and waterproofing, and quick-drying construction means they would be an excellent choice for multi-day trips. The boots are perfect for those who want to feel just as at home in the city as they are in the hills due to their modern inconspicuous aesthetic design.

WHAT STANDS OUT?

WATERPROOFING

This is certainly one of the highlight features of these boots. I spent a great deal of time wearing them over the duration of this review and not once did I get wet feet due to the boots letting water in through the material.

COMFORT

I was really surprised just how comfortable the North Face Vectiv II boots are. The Superfoam cushioning and energy efficient shape of their sole is a really great combination for longs days on your feet.

GRIP

Another stand out element of these boots is the grip they provide. I felt so stable on my feet and it didn’t take me long to trust them even on pretty treacherous terrain.

STICKY SOLES

The main aspect of the boot I didn’t like was the little diamond-shaped gap in the sole. When walking through mud, it created a suction effect which felt like my foot was sticking to the ground as well as squelching loudly. While this isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it does reduce the feeling of stability in these conditions, and it’s also really annoying!

VALUE FOR MONEY

I think the Vectiv II boot is well priced in comparison to similar styled boots from other brands, and with it’s all-day-comfort I believe anyone considering a pair would be very happy with them.

BASE BOTTOM LINE

I am very happy with the NF VECTIV II boots. They very quickly become my shoe of choice when it came to long days out on my feet and they gave me great peace-of-mind knowing that my feet would remain dry in almost every situation.

Their level of waterproofing is exceptional. Wading through ankle-deep festival-mud and slogging around the Lake District in the pouring rain was all taken in their stride. The Exploris II is a mid-height boot, a design that works well for the modern ‘streetwear’ look and helps with weight reduction. This did mean that it didn’t take much for water to splash up and into the boot, so running the risk of negating the waterproofing. The boot-height is still enough to provide adequate foot and ankle protection while walking on more technical terrain.

The Exploris II’s are exceptionally comfortable when worn for a long time on fairly easy smooth terrain. The Superfoam cushioning sees to this with excellent vibration dispersion as an energy efficient shape to reduce foot fatigue. However, I feel that the downside of such cushioning is an apparent reduction in protection. I found when out hiking in more technical terrain with the presence of sharper pointed rocks, my feet definitely felt more sore than they would have done in a more ‘traditional’ style thick-soled boot.

One of the stand-out elements of the North Face Exploris II boot is their grip and stability. During a photoshoot in the Peak District, I was rushing around on some dry but particularly polished limestone. Despite the sketchy terrain, I felt confident that I wasn’t going to fall [and I didn’t]. They didn’t perform quite as well on wet rocks. I was hiking in the Coniston area of the Lake District and I did slip a couple of times on the wet, slightly slimy slate.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with this pair of boots and I would be very happy to recommend them to anyone looking for a lightweight and comfortable boot they need to wear all day and often in the rain.

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